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Dealership Death by Double Entry

Remember the game Telephone you played in elementary school? Everyone sat in a circle, and the first player whispered a phrase in the next player’s ear once and only once. The second player repeated what they heard to the third player, and this continued until the phrase made it to the final player. As a child, the game was hilarious because the last player often heard a nonsensical phrase completely different from what the first player said.

At many dealerships, a game of Telephone is being played – with customer data. When customer data is entered and re-entered into dealership software platform after dealership software platform, the transformation of information is often just as dramatic as that phrase in Telephone. But the results are far less funny.

Many dealers understand that double entry of data is happening in their business; maybe your software platforms aren’t integrated or your processes aren’t quite right. But most dealers fail to recognize the extent of the damage that double entry is causing to their bottom line. With every additional data entry point comes an additional opportunity for error, and those errors are costly.

Bad data costs the U.S. economy more than $3.1 trillion a year. For dealerships, that cost comes in the form of both money wasted – think sending two mailers to the same person – and opportunity cost.
Marketing is often one of the hardest hit by bad data. Nearly a third of sales and marketing data is unusable. If a third of the contacts in your marketing database are incorrect, a third of your marketing spend is essentially going down the drain.

Double entry is often the culprit for creating these incorrect records. Let’s say Brian Smith walks into your dealership. In the first platform, his information is entered correctly. But when his information is entered into the next platform, his name is misspelled “Bryan.” “Brian Smith” and “Bryan Smith” are the same person, but if your systems can’t catch that, Brian is going to receive two emails, two mailers and two phone calls every time. This happens more than any of us would like to admit; 36 percent have been sent duplicate communications. Multiply this effect across all your data, and suddenly you are looking at a big pile of wasted money.

The opportunity cost brought about by double entry is a little bit harder to track and quantify, but this area often represents an even bigger cost to your dealership. Every minute your salespeople spend entering customer data that has already been entered elsewhere is a minute they could have been using to follow up with leads or mine data for new ones. Think about the impact of giving everyone on your staff an extra 45 minutes back to their day. That extra time adds up quickly, and the cost of not making changes becomes alarmingly apparent.

This is where I challenge you all to begin your path to eliminating double entry. Track the amount of time your staff spends re-entering customer data. It will be a tedious exercise, but it will open your eyes to where the gaps exactly are and provide insight into how to fix them. Maybe you need to consider switching to a CRM platform that integrates with your dealership website or inventory management system, like Connect CRM integrates with and vAuto Provision. Or maybe there is simply a staff training issue. Whatever the case may be, taking the time to nail down double entry will pay back exponential dividends for your dealership’s bottom line.

A version of this post originally appeared in Dealer Marketing Magazine.

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